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Ultramontanism’s Death Sentence

Image: Pope Pius XII” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by truerestoration

In 1952 Pope Pius XII said the following, in a public address recorded among his official acts:

Even when it is a question of the execution of a condemned man, the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. In this case it is reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned person of the enjoyment of life in expiation of his crime when, by his crime, he has already disposed himself of his right to live.

In 2017 Pope Francis spoke, in a not dissimilar context:

It must be clearly stated that the death penalty is an inhumane measure that, regardless of how it is carried out, abases human dignity. It is per se contrary to the Gospel, because it entails the willful suppression of a human life that never ceases to be sacred in the eyes of its Creator and of which – ultimately – only God is the true judge and guarantor.


It is necessary, therefore, to reaffirm that no matter how serious the crime that has been committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the person.

What can the Ultramontanists, those with an exaggerated view of papal authority so prominent in the debate over Amoris laetitia, make of this situation?

Presumably, in 1952 all good Ultramontanists said that, because the Pope had said so, it follows that it is true that the death penalty is not only permissible, but for sufficiently serious crimes, uniquely appropriate. (What else does it mean, to say that a criminal has ‘disposed’ of his ‘right to life’?)

Today, in 2017, all good Ultramontanists are saying that, because the Pope has said so, it follows that it is false that the the death penalty is ever permissible.

Now, the official Ultramontanist line is that Papal authority, being supreme and (for practical purposes, always) infallible, can never be self contradictory. But between these two papal statements there is a contradiction as plain as the nose on your face. The suggestion that the 2017 statement is a ‘development’ or ‘clarification’ of what was said in 1952, or that is draws out implications of this and other expressions of the Church’s teaching on capital punishment over the centuries, is not something one needs to haggle over. It is simply insane.

But for those who wish to haggle, a simple test of the development of doctrine is to ask if later authors can continue to accept earlier expressions of a doctrine as being true. Thus, we find the discussion of grace in Augustine lacking some distinctions developed by later authors and used in dogmatic statements, but Augustine is not for that reason wrong, and what he writes is not, with hindsight, heresy. It might on occasion be misleading to quote Augustine on grace, but one need not disavow him. In this case, by contrast, it is evident that Pope Francis disagrees with Pope Pius XII: they can’t both be right.

Today’s Ultramontanists are in a bind, therefore. In order to uphold the supreme and (for practical purposes, always) infallible authority of Pope Francis, they are going to have to admit that the authority of Pope Pius XII was not so supreme or infallible after all.

But if people would have been wrong in 1952 to throw themselves on their faces before Pius XII and agree with what he said about capital punishment, just because he’d said it, then the hideous possibility must exist that people may be wrong to agree with everything that Pope Francis says in 2017, just because he’s said it.

Pope Francis’ statement, by so simply and so clearly contradicting his predecessor of 65 years ago, demonstrates the falsity of Ultramontanism in a way I would never have thought possible. We may point out to the Ultramontanists that the contradiction of one Pope by another on a matter of faith and morals is possible, given the fallibility of most of their pronouncements, even when they are giving every appearance of exercising their teaching office (let alone when they are talking off the cuff on aeroplanes, or writing private letters), but usually Popes are far too careful in preparing their public remarks to allow this to happen, except in the most subtle and tacit way. But Pope Francis has done it. The game is up.

Ultramontanism as a practical guide for Catholics only works, insofar as it can work at all, in times of great stability. At times like the present, it is self-contradictory and absurd. After Pope Francis’ statement on the death penalty, no Catholic with intellectual integrity can continue to hold it.

Where does this leave the ordinary Catholic? The ordinary Catholic is obliged to believe what the Church teaches. The Church hands on faithfully what she has received from her Lord. We can see Pope Pius XII doing that in the quoted passage: using the language of his time, certainly, but in its content faithful to the Popes, the Fathers and Doctors, and Scripture (see Gen. 9:6Lev. 20-1Deut. 13Deut. 21:22Matt. 15:4Mk. 7:10Jn. 19:11Rom. 13:4Heb. 10:28).

Of Pope Francis’ statement, to put it mildly, this cannot be said.

Note: the liceity of capital punishment is the first of the propositions discussed in the Appeal to Cardinals of the 45 Theologians, which gives more references.

Cardinal Dulles gives a thorough account of the teaching of the Church on First Things here.

This essay first appeared at Rorate Caeli. It has been reprinted with the author’s permission.

83 thoughts on “Ultramontanism’s Death Sentence”

  1. I am not sure I agree that Ultramontanists are “in a bind”.

    Of course to anyone who sees things with open eyes, then clearly they are a nonsense. I agree with you that “no Catholic with intellectual integrity can continue to hold it”.

    But that is not the way the world works. Liberals and Progressives never have any difficulty in believing and speaking “six impossible /contradictory things before breakfast ”

    And yet people continue to vote for them because they only believe what they want to believe.

    Most of the Pope’s backers don’t have much integrity. They will have no difficulty coming up with an explanation that the ultramontanists will pick up on.

    I fear that most people will have no difficulty accepting both statements as being correct. And Pope Francis is still Pope.

      • If it wasn’t obvious what I meant by that bit then apologies, but if you read my increasingly exasperated comments to Mike above you will, I am sure, see the purpose in that statement.

        As to your question. I don’t know the answer.

        I am a fairly regular reader of Dr Shaw’s own website. I don’t post to it as it’s on a different platform and I don’t have the patience to have names and passwords for every platform going. If he has a fault then, I believe, that it’s his failure to see sometimes what effect actions and words have on people, Catholic or general population, and how they can be blinded by the ability of progressives to make even the most outrageous lies seem true. As in this case.

        I recognise that trait because it’s only recently that I have started to see more clearly that what might be obvious to me is not always what is obvious to everyone. In other words I too had that same failure.

        But he is far cleverer than I am. And as for Church law, I rather suspect he knows more than I would ever be able to look up. Same with Steve on this site.

        Despite having many disagreements with him, they both accept that Jorge Bergoglio is legally Pope. I don’t feel that I am able to argue.

      • It should be obvious that my whole post is about perception.

        Public perception is that he is Pope. Whether or not it is the case is actually irrelevant.

        If you and a few others don’t agree, that changes nothing.

        • If it makes no difference who the pope is, then why did Our Lord found His Church upon the Papacy? It seems pretty pointless, don’t you think? Maybe an optional extra. Something nice to top things off, but not essential.

          The Church actually teaches that it is necessary for salvation to submit to the Pope.

          If I submit to this Bergoglio character I’ll lose the Faith. Since God doesn’t ask the impossible, Jorge could not actually be whom he or the public at large think he is. Either he, or myself is outside the Church.

          • The point of the article is that
            what has been done now makes it difficult, or in fact impossible to claim that the Pope is always correct. The Headine is “Ultramontanisms Death Sentence”. Whilst clearly being written to tie in to the subject at hand, the suggestion of a Death Sentence is that something is on its way out.

            The point of my reply is to suggest that ways will possibly be found to make it appear that the Pope is always correct, despite these two contradictory statements. It has started already.

            It is not about you. It’s not even about what is right. The author already knows that the ultramontanists aren’t right and I don’t think that it’s about the fact that it will become clear to God now.

            It’s about will Ultramontanists still be claiming their particular belief and will most people still be believing them to be right in a few days/ weeks/ months time when this is no longer news.
            And one thing is for sure. Unless he dies, the overwhelming majority of Catholics and virtually the entire world will believe that Jorge Bergoglio is Pope.

            My point is that the way this is seen will be dramatically affected by who is seen to be Pope. You are arguing that he is not Pope. You challenged me over your mistaken perception of what I meant. If my meaning wasn’t clear when I first wrote, it should have been very clear after my reply to your first comment.

            The debate is pointless as we are arguing different points. It is as non-sensical as me saying on the basis of the referendum in Ireland that public perception is that two men can marry and you demanding that I prove that two men can get married.

  2. There#s no better time than today to buy and read Ed Feser and Joseph Bessette’s new book “By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed – A Catholic defense of Capital Punishment”.

    You can’t read this book and follow its arguments without concluding that Pope Francis’ pronouncement on capital punishment contradicts a truth de fide divina.

  3. Quit being so rigid already.
    2+2 always =4 only under the rigid arithmetic of Pius XII. But under the new Franciscan syllabus, sometimes 2+2=5, see?
    No contradiction at all.

      • Even God cannot revise natural law, because to do so would negate His own nature, which is immutable. And yet the Pope vainly imagines that he himself can alter natural law! The full magnitude of Pope Francis’ hubris is unfathomable!

      • Even God cannot make 2+2 = 5. Because in the world which He created 2+2 =4.
        Of course if we are talking about 2 apples plus 2 apples =4, then God can produce another apple.
        But then we will have 2+2+1=5.

        Only Francis and his fellow progressives can make 2+2=5.

    • Suggestion: Please edit your post and put (sarc) or (sarcasm) at the end. Yohanes didn’t understand that you were being sarcastic. (You had me fooled for a moment too.)

    • Absolutely correct.

      But that again shows that it’s not a “Franciscan” syllabus as such but that he is a promoting the “NWO” syllabus as that is what “liberals and progressives” do in all walks of life.

  4. The difference between the two is the intention. The intention with the first, as with any true Catholic, is that we should aspire for the preservation of people’s lives, hoping they will one day wake up and be partakers in the beautiful things God has in store for them. The intention of the second is worship of man or false dignity, which is Masonic. “It is the thought that counts.”

  5. The most disturbing thing about ultramontanism and its adherents is their propensity to accept the reasonableness of the Catholic faith, *except* in matters pertaining to the pope, in which case the faculty of reason is shelved in favor of a blanket intellectual haze whereby all observations of anything that might resemble concern are dismissed with excuses like “I am 100% loyal to the Holy Father” or “only God can judge the pope”. Were the same issue a matter pertaining to any other prelate, the same people would (rightly) express grave concern. But because it’s the pope, the very act of observing troublesome behavior becomes off-limits. The sheer obviousness of this intellectual hypocrisy is just mind boggling.

    • This acceptance and loyalty to the pope is based on the assumption, potentially proven erroneous with Francis, that the pope has been chosen by God. I doubt that God, even when chastising the Church, would choose a vicar as intent on the Church’s (or the Fsith’s) destruction as Francis.

  6. Personally, I see no need for the death penalty. Too many innocent people have the potential to be committed to death in a world that is beyond corrupt in a judicial system that looks to convict for personal/professional gain. Gen 18:16-33 where God spares the wicked for the sake of the good. Is one innocent life taken worth all those who are guilty?

    It is even contrary to our own beliefs of freedom as a country where our system, when it works, is based on the premise that the burden of proof is on guilt, that allowing the guilty to go free is better than one wrong conviction or death sentence.

    I don’t understand why some people are so gung ho to end a life, even one that is contrary to all that is good. Jesus comes for those such as these and if our job is to provide the basics until He decides their fate, that allows God to do what He chooses and shows our own humility by allowing Him to do as such. Where is mercy, and when you come down to it how is the life or death of people we don’t know and will never come in contact with demand the ultimate payment.

    • Nobody is so eager to end a life. Well, possibly except those who seek to abolish the death penalty.

      I used to feel the same way you do, but upon studying the problem in detail, gave way to logic, the Scriptures, and the Magesterium.

      The thing that caused me the biggest heartburn was the issue of innocent people being executed. It nagged and ate at me.

      Until I really examined the JPII argument that in modern societies the DP is obsolete. Indeed, just the opposite is the case, due to our advanced level of forensics, it is precisely in modern societies where the DP can be administered most justly.

      While one may stumble on the concept of an innocent person being executed, in reality and in theory, one must also grapple with the actual, real and ongoing deaths perpetrated by 1} released murderers and 2} prisoners against other prisoners especially those incarcerated in states where the death penalty does not exist.

      In both cases, the administration of a death penalty would have prevented these unnecessary and wholly unjust killings.

      Those who, like I did, are entirely against the DP never seem to come to grips with this reality. Neither did I.

      It is, I admit, a grim subject.

    • There are a couple of sides to consider here…

      The first, and the one tackled indirectly in this article, is the teaching of the church that the death penalty can be administered justly and that such a death can expiate the wrongs perpetrated by the criminal. This is the constant teaching of the church and, due to the consistent handing down throughout time, we must accept it as infallible.

      The second, and one that you touch on, is the NEED for the death penalty in our present society. This is a prudential decision that, while informed by the constant teaching of the church, can be answered in a multitude of ways. A state, while having the right and authority to end the life of a criminal who has forfeited his own right to it, may decide not to exercise that power for a variety of reasons.

      These are two separate discussions and that needs to be placed in context. Holding to the first, that this is a doctrine of the church, does not necessarily mean that the death penalty should be instituted in every place and that those advocating for it are bloodthirsty. I, personally, hold to the church’s traditional teaching. But I also accept that it is not necessarily a good idea in the United States, for example, to implement it everywhere.

    • You state the problem with your own thesis in your first paragraph. In Gen 18, God spares culpable life for the sake of the innocent, but the salient notion to be grasped here is that those guilty of monstrous crimes deserve punishment, in fact annihilation in this case. Here and in many other places in Scripture, we find Pope Francis’ opinion on this matter is contradicted.

      Your second paragraph makes no sense. Our system has multiple layers of safeguards against judicial mistakes, ESPECIALLY in capital cases. But your implied demand for absolute certainty is inhuman and ultimately conducive to anarchy.

      Your final paragraph barely merits a response. You employ loaded and emotional language in the way modern often liberals do, in an attempt to discredit your opponents by innuendo. You compound your error in the final (grammatically twisted) sentence by blithely dismissing the demands for retributive justice by victims of criminals (at least that is what I think you are trying to say).

  7. The ultramontanists seems to have accepted a new thesis, if certain “theologians” like Stephen Walford are to be believed, which is that the truth changes depending on the words and wishes of the present pontiff. And that is something even more dangerous.

    • This is how the Mormons regard the uttetances of their so-called prophet. If the current prophet contradicts a previous one, it is because (mormon)god has changed his mind.

      • Quite correct. Mormons are taught that the president of the church can receive new revelation. Revelations, such as, the end of polygamous marriages and restricting blacks from the priesthood.
        We know, however, that revelation ended with the death of St. John.
        Which is why the current push for homosexual unions, priestesses, divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion, making man made global warming denial a sin, etc. is so maddening.

  8. Sorry to vent, but I get a little torqued when I hear the term “ultramontanist” being thrown around as an insult. When the term originated it was a good thing. In the 19th Century, France and Germany were under anti-catholic governments that persecuted the Catholics and there were many bishops and clergy in these countries that tried to “go along to get along” with these governments. At the time they were called “liberals” and were roundly condemned by all the popes of the period. However they were still very powerful and your average simple Catholic followed them, not knowing any better. Those that DID know better, adhered not to their local bishop, but to Rome, and were persecuted by the government, the anti-catholic media, and liberal Catholics. They were called “ultramontanists,” meaning “over the mountains” – as in Alps – because they took followed the pope, not their liberal clerics or secular governments. We are in the tragic situation now where it is dangerous to follow either blindly, but in the 19th Century, they were in the right.

    • The original meaning of ultramontanism has changed… there is a new heresy that exists under that name. So… I get what you’re saying, but using it as it is most often used today is appropriate.

      • A more accurate term would be papal positivism. Which is just another rendition of (DING-DING-DING!) modernism, the final synthesis of all heresies, pure, irrational, intentional, transmogrification of the meaning of all dogmata into some foul thing that does not conflict with one’s own base desires.

    • It is unfortunate that the meaning of words change over time – especially when used in the vernacular. I think a more accurate term to use and delightfully perjorative to boot would be “Mottramism”. Please google for a better definition of “Mottramism” than I can give here.

  9. It’s hard to take Francis seriously. He has become a farce, a stereotypical Jesuit with a capital J. Where’s the old SNL when you need ’em?

    • That’s what I was thinking. It’s a huge embarrassment to himself that he can’t get even Catholicism 101 right. It’s like a weekly comedy routine: “WHAT WILL HE DO NEXT?!” He always ends with egg all over his face.

  10. It’s called Positivism.

    So, where was all the outrage and death sentence proclamations of so-called “Ultramontanism” with John Paul II? Ultramontanism is a term that is too broad and used by progressives to bash normal Catholics like us.

    But anyway, when JPII asked St. John the Baptist to protect Islam OR when he accommodated pagans in breaking the first commandment at Assisi – why didn’t “ultramontanism” die then??

    There is no reason to pray to protect false religions unless you think they are valuable in and of themselves. “Protect a religion that is full of apostasy and does not worship the one true God via sacrifice as the natural law dictates, and who reject the sacraments.” Huh?

    And of course, accommodating people to break a commandment??? What?

    How many dozens of popes can we find that state they want false religions to be eradicated by conversion, false religions are harmful, and that people should not worship false idols?

    Now, where was the outcry? Answer: No one cares, because everyone is crazy and is foaming at the mouth to canonize every single thing in existence – including their dead cat – to make their lives meaningful. Hooray.

  11. If this is ultramontanism’s death sentence, then let the execution be carried out quickly, and with plenty of fanfare to show that this near-deification of a mortal, sinful man is not authentic Catholic theology. Let this evil ideology be destroyed.

  12. LOL, Pope can’t help but step from one briar patch into another. It’s embarrassing! Why does he do this to himself? It’s so sad when even the Pope bumbles through the faith and barely knows anything, even basics like capital punishment.

  13. I get the problem some are having with “Ultramontanism” being used in this way. I really do. But, by the same token, please recall that “Traditionalism” once referred to a condemned heresy.

    Just sayin’.

  14. Steve, this article requires a good introduction about the history of the word ‘ultramontism’, otherwise a lot of people, such as myself, who didn’t know the original meaning, will end up with a completely warped idea of what this issue is about. When they then read something about historical ultramontism, they’re going to be very confused.

    Paul (below) is correct. If the term is being used in a ‘contemporary’ setting as an insult, it should be clearly stated that there has been a change of meaning. I believe Dr Shaw is addressing the incompatibility between contemporary papolatry and unchanging Church doctrine/dogma here – that has nothing to do with historical Ultramontism, as far as I can see – except that the phrase has been usurped.

    That’s my take on this, anyway.

    Please add at least an explanatory note at the beginning of this article!

  15. But what did Our Lord say about Capital Punishment? I recall he did say ” Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” That woman was about to be stoned to death. Is Capital punishment correct or is it better to lock criminals up indefinitely In the hope they repent? Popes are men, St Paul corrected St Peter the first Pope, was he right to do so? It’s all very confusing for the average Catholic of goodwill, is it any surprise the churches are empty. No one has any idea what we are to believe any more.

    • Aquinas’s commentary on John is instructive in this regard:

      1132 It was at their insistence that Jesus gave his sentence; and so the Evangelist says, As they persisted in the question, he stood up and said to them: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. The Pharisees were violators of the Law; and yet they tried to accuse Christ of violating the Law and were attempting to make him condemn the woman. So Christ proposes a sentence in accord with justice, saying, He that is without sin among you. He is saying in effect: Let the sinner be punished, but not by sinners; let the Law be accomplished, but not by those who break it, because “For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself” (Rom 2:1). Therefore, either let this woman go, or suffer the penalty of the Law with her.

      1133 Here the question arises as to whether a sinful judge sins by passing sentence against another person who has committed the same sin. It is obvious that if the judge who passes sentence is a public sinner, he sins by giving scandal. Yet, this seems to be true also if his sin is hidden, for we read in Romans (2:1): “For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself” However, it is clear that no one condemns himself except by sinning. And thus it seems that he sins by judging another.

      My answer to this is that two distinctions have to be made. For the judge is either continuing in his determination to sin, or he has repented of his sins; and again, he is either punishing as a minister of the law or on his own initiative. Now if he has repented of his sin, he is no longer a sinner, and so he can pass sentence without sinning. But if he continues in his determination to sin, he does not sin in passing sentence if he does this as a minister of the law; although he would be sinning by doing the very things for which he deserves a similar sentence. But if he passes sentence on his own authority, then I say that he sins in justice, but from some evil root; otherwise he would first punish in himself what he notices in someone else, because “The just is first accuser of himself” (Prv 18:17).

      (emphasis added)

    • He was abrogating the old law and exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

      Our Lord did not condemn the centurion.

      St. Paul says “the ministers of justice do not bear the sword in vain”.

      The Church’s teaching on Capital punishment is clear.

      Francis doesn’t count for anything.

        • That’s why they don’t teach what the Church teaches; either by omitting to teach the truth, or by replacing it with another teaching.

          But they never foresaw the internet when they unleashed their revolution, and that Catholics would easily be able to go straight to the pre Vatican II magisterium and apply it to today’s fiasco.

  16. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2267

    ” Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

    If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

    As it is clearly shown, Sain John Paul II himself narrows the possibility of the application of death penalty to the contingent condition and possibility of the State expecially when he writes that death penalty can be legit when ” is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor”.

    He didn’t say that raw justice justifies death penalty in and of itself. And, if it’s true that ” when non lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person”, then it follows that GPII had a different opinion on the death penalty, different from the one exposed by Pius XII.

    Both affirmed that it can be legit, but GPII narrows its applications much more,

    • Therefore the term Death sentence is better used towards an aggressor, such as the North Korean leader, he is threatening world peace, with his threats of violence, in effect that is what he has been told, stop the aggression or you face the death entrance, anyone would see the moral justification for this.

    • Therefore the term Death sentence ( penalty) is better used towards an aggressor, such as the North Korean leader, he is threatening world peace, with his threats of violence, in effect that is what he has been told, stop the aggression or you face the death entrance, anyone would see the moral justification for this.

    • Therefore the term Death sentence ( penalty) is better used towards an aggressor, such as the North Korean leader, he is threatening world peace, with his threats of violence, in effect that is what he has been told, stop the aggression or you face the death penalty , anyone would see the moral justification for this.

  17. Isn’t this the whole issue with Amoris overturning Veritas? If both are infallible, then two diametrically opposite realities are both true. Because this is illogical, then neither are true. I recall Pontus Pilate’s words: What IS truth? I also recall Pope Francis making some recent statement about how everyone has different Absolute Truths. I truly feel like I fell down the rabbit hole…..

  18. “Thou shalt not kill” how can Capital Punishment be supported by the Catholic Church, i understand we have the right to protect ourselves against an agressor by using lethal force, a moral right to protect our own lives, but when alternatives such as imprisonment is available then capital Punishment should be avoided i would have thought. So where does that put Thomas Aquinis and Pope Pius XII?

    • You do realize that the traditional interpretation of the Fifth Commandment is “thou shalt not commit murder”, right? It’s not “kill” universally; it specifically refers to the unlawful taking of another life not in self defense or as punishment by lawful authority.

      • Yes, for by that abbreviated definition we’d all be vegans, which, frankly, I guess some of the current crop of “Laudato Si “Catholics” just might find dogmatically appealing….

      • Unfortunately, that view can’t be reconciled with the underlying Hebrew text—which can refer to many types of killing–including legally-sanctioned executions.

        • So self defense is out, then? Someone points a gun at you and you just let them kill you, rather than deploy your own firearm if you have one?

          What about animals, then? If killing is forbidden, period, then hunting’s out. As is butchering from commercial agriculture. Come to think of it, better not mow the lawn, since that’s killing grass, or deploy pesticides, since that’s killing insects, or develop medicines, since that’s killing bacteria.

          How far do you want to take this?

    • Well, the real question is: Where does their support for the death penalty put those who oppose capital punishment? Even the most deluded partisan of Francis, I believe, would be very reluctant to say his intellect matches that of the Angelic Doctor. I would add that everything I have seen to date tells me he is also clearly the intellectual inferior of Pius XII.

  19. One of the most disturbing scenes in the Bible is the face to face confrontation between Jesus and Pilate. For so many reasons, but one which is relevant to the discussion here is the simple fact that Jesus in no way took the opportunity to condemn secular government’s responsibility to apply the death penalty NOR EVEN THE METHOD.

    What must be wrestled with in that dialogue is not just the fact that Jesus clearly reinforces Pilate’s authority to execute a man. Jesus merely corrects and educates Pilate about the SOURCE of that authority. But in what must be an especially disturbing scene for modernists, Jesus does not condemn nor even imply there was anything wrong with the method of crucifixion!

    I think we’d all agree that it’s one thing to put a man to death say by firing squad. It’s another to crucify him. The latter combines extreme torture with the death penalty itself and Jesus doesn’t in any way reference any morally negative aspect of this method when it would sure look like a good time to do it if He had some reservations.

    Christ in no way condemns either aspect of the punishment.

    Something to mull over…

    As much as this pains many “Catholics” today, Jesus wasn’t a pot-smoking, free-loving, sodomy-sympathizing Good Time Rock’n Roller.

    And He still isn’t.

    • As in the OT and the NT God deals with man as he finds them and doesn’t impose the morals and methods from any future time period of earth. That is why Jesus didn’t say; what about lethal injection?

  20. There’s another relevant scene during the Crucifixion, like the one referenced below, that helps me come to terms with the death penalty. It’s from the New Testament about the two thieves crucified alongside our Lord. The second thief (not even a murderer), replies to the first thief who is mocking Jesus, “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:41

    If God was against capital punishment, this would seem to be the perfect time to say so. Notice, Jesus does not contradict the thief by saying he doesn’t deserve execution, or that it was unjust for the authorities to ever execute anyone. What He says is “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

    Capital punishment is an emotionally charged, hard subject, with people of good intentions on both sides. But every verse in the Gospel is there by the authority of the Holy Spirit for our knowledge and for the understanding of God’s will.

    • Yes, good cite.

      And another thing. Every verse that addresses capital punishment in the Scriptures affirms it while strictly limiting it.

      NOWHERE does Scripture condemn capital punishment.

      • I’m not really knowledgeable about our Church’s teaching concerning capital punishment but this gives motivation for me to learn. What’s worst than the death penalty? Lifelong prison…free labor, and that’s on the agenda of the NWO. With the elevation of Earth’s up keep as the #1 moral good…to commit a crime against her will be serving of a lifelong prison sentence. You hate abortion???, fine we will “compromise” and make it illegal while “changing” church teaching to always prohibit capital punishment…increasing prison populations by way of charges of harm to the environment and Christian witness (hate speech). I think there is a desire to mix unyielding christians in with the populations that are truly guilty of sinister crimes…this is an appeal to the Prison Industrial complex.

        3rd world nations that can’t support large numbers of incarcerated? What do you do with them? You export them to the nation’s that can so that they can fancy whatever the prevailing pleasure is because surely we have machines that can do the industrial work, people are just needed for all the sexual work and debauchery. Or simply accept the foreign aid money to deal with the increased costs but of course by accepting the money you agree to contraception and abortion on demand.

        This talk regarding capital punishment has very little to do with those accused of heinous crimes…has everything to do with the most impoverished nations and the return of slavery as a booming business, imo.

        Here in the U.S. I personally believe we can do without the death penalty..but like I have stated this is moreso directed to developing nations not the 1st world

  21. Let me get this straight. Back when Benedict XVI was our man, we Trads prided ourselves on our ultramontanism. Now, under Francis, we mock ultramontanists. Hmmm. Something strange is going on here… Maybe since Francis is contradicting centuries of Church teaching (on a regular basis) and contradicting many, many infallible teachings of previous popes (on a regular basis), he isn’t really the pope after all. It is impossible, is it not, for the true Church to teach heresy — or to contradict Herself. I think we should NOT reject being “ultramontanist” but we SHOULD reject that man in the Vatican (Francis the First) who cannot be a true pope since he publicly teaches heresy on a daily basis.

  22. Suddenly papal and central authority of the church isn’t appealing to right wingers. So does this justify christians being put to death in countries where Christianity is illegal? The state is just carrying out its duty then. Depriving another of life is NEVER justified.

    • You have jampacked lots of confusion in such a short post.

      This line especially begs for comment:

      “Suddenly papal and central authority of the church isn’t appealing to right wingers.”

      “Papal and central authority of the church (sic)” is wholly in support of those who affirm the just application of the death penalty. That’s the point; The Church has maintained the right and responsibility of the State to wield the sword in the maintenance of order and justice. Going all the way back, St Paul’s admonitions didn’t refer to the sword being wielded by Christian governmnets, but rather, by the very governmnet that was presecuting HIM and Christians in general.

      There are, of course, just reasons to execute a lawbreaker and unjust reasons to end another person’s life. Authorities are capable of both.

  23. This Pope loves man, and the world of man. The ignorant poor of the world will love this Pope and those that know better will not love this Pope. The Catholic Church is going through hard times, but Jesus said; “on this earth you will have trouble”.

  24. There have been many catechisms. Pius X, Baltimore and others. Many dogmas are contained therein, but also prudential judgements. Spotting the difference is called Sacred Tradition, Scripture, and adhering to the principle of non-contradiction upon which all rational opinion must be based. Based on his words and actions, this Pope has no respect for any of these.


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